Families new to the Charlotte area will find many educational opportunities and choices here; so many in fact that it may take a little research to figure out exactly which is best for your child. Local educators make that task easy by welcoming visitors to their schools and by providing ample information to help you make the choice.
The Charlotte region’s public school systems meet the needs of a wide range of students, from special needs to academically gifted, technical to college prep. North Carolina has traditionally encouraged consolidation of public systems so that each county has one school system, giving the state 100 county systems and 15 city systems. The largest in North Carolina, and among the top 25 in the nation, is Charlotte-Mecklenburg
Schools, which serves more than 121,640 students in 148 schools.
While many North Carolina public systems have consolidated, some remain independent city school districts, such as Mooresville Graded School District
in southern Iredell County and Kannapolis City Schools
in Cabarrus/Rowan counties. In South Carolina, Lancaster County
has one public school system, while York County
has four, each with its own distinct character.
A common theme among all regional schools is growth. The increase in population is causing tremendous growth in school enrollment, and that puts pressure on classroom space, money and resources. As you visit schools, you’ll see plenty of new construction and expansion projects under way, as well as many modular units, or mobile classrooms.
Making the Grade
Another common theme for public systems in North Carolina is the ABCs, short for the ABCs of Public Education Accountability Program
. This statewide reform effort is designed to improve educational performance and results at individual schools by setting goals and evaluating progress on those goals through end-of-grade tests. High-performing schools are rewarded through bonuses for teachers and other certified staff; low-performing schools are given special state assistance to help them improve. The ABC results are available online at the State Department of Public Instruction Web site, www.ncpublicschools.org
The No Child Left Behind Legislation,
enacted in 2003, also holds school districts accountable. The law has three goals: 1. Make sure that all students in a school perform well in the areas of reading and mathematics especially students from low-income families and minority populations, Limited English Proficient students, and students with disabilities. 2. Hold schools responsible if all children are not on grade level or above. 3. Make sure that there is a highly qualified teacher in each classroom.
Each state sets its own standards for meeting these goals; for North Carolina, this means that students must achieve grade-level or higher on their end-of-grade tests.
The Charlotte region also has many independent secular and religious private schools. There’s even a parochial school system Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools
which encompasses the countys eight parochial schools (but not the Catholic schools in outlying counties). You’ll find a range of educational offerings, including innovative programs, special classes for students with learning disabilities, religious training and character-building. Because each private school has its own distinct philosophy and approach to learning, you’ll want to research, talk to parents and take a tour.
The Charlotte region also has several charter schools to consider. Charter schools, which originated in Minnesota in the early 1990s, are independently operated public schools designed to serve as laboratories for innovation in education. Created and run by parents, teachers and/or community leaders, charter schools receive the same per-pupil funding as other public schools. However, they can spend the money and operate with fewer restrictions and government rules. The schools must be approved by the N.C. Board of Education before they can begin operation and are periodically reviewed.
Allen Tate Company